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Re: Kirk Dial of Seattle & International Dial Co. of Wilmington, Ohio..Which is "THE" Best?

I have used at 10 different refinishers over the last 15 years and have been happiest with Kirk Dial of Georgia, Kirk Dial of Seattle, and International Dial. They all have their strengths and weaknesses but none of them nail every dial every time. Neither of the Kirks do great work on the early American printed dials. International, however, has done truly remarkable work on a number of early Illinois (also Elgin and Waltham) dials for me in the last year...making my Illinois collector very happy. Their "dark luminous" option (which does not actually glow, BTW) is perfect for these vintage printed dials. On the other hand, I would put International's results with embossed dials, Swiss dials, etc., below that of either of the Kirks. Kirk-Seattle tends to do better work more often than Kirk-Georgia, but either one is capable of excellent work. On the flip side, Georgia is typically quicker and less expensive than Seattle.

As for customer service, International is the only one of the three who seems to have entered the 21st Century, actually using website ordering, online payment, digital before/after images for approval, etc. Even so, the lack of communication between company and customer is frustrating, and needlessly so. They are much more erratic in their turnaround times as well. Sometimes, they will sit on something for months (and get testy when you inquire about it). Other times, they will crank out 3-4 excellent refins in just a couple of weeks. For these reasons, I will no longer send them anything other than the early American printed dials. I will give them credit where due and go so far as to say don't send such dials to anyone OTHER than International.

Both Kirks are still rather old school. The Georgia folks have odd hours - something like 6am to 2pm Mon-Th. Still, you can reach and speak by phone with a human when need be. I've spoken with a human in Seattle as well. Georgia does have and use email, but not extensively. If either of them have websites of any consequence, I have yet to see them. Both have predictable turnaround times and will let you know if there will be a delay. I've never found myself wondering whether a customer's dial has fallen through the cracks with either Kirk.

So for what it's worth, those are my observations on these three refinishers. Some of the others (at least the ones I can remember) who I did not use more than 1-2 times for various reasons, include Dial Craft (Canada), Precision Dial and Kirk Rich (both in L.A.), Eagle Dial (Pennsylvania), and Southern Dial (Texas). There were at 2 others but I can't remember the names any more.
 

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Re: Kirk Dial of Seattle & International Dial Co. of Wilmington, Ohio..Which is "THE" Best?

Good to hear first hand experiences from more than just one data point. Thanks for taking the time to post!
 

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Re: Kirk Dial of Seattle & International Dial Co. of Wilmington, Ohio..Which is "THE" Best?

Seems like I am one of those that is experiencing problems with International dial. I am from Europe and I sent my Certina dial from 1968 at the beginning of December 2012. I was surprised that after two weeks they send me before and after photo, sertainly I was expecting at least a month or something. Anyhow the dial looked nice although it was not exactly like the original look and the name of the model was missing which for me was a major gap. I asked them to print the model of the watch on the dial and they agreed with the condition to make a new order and promised to finish it within two weeks. I payed the first order which was a big mistake and made the new one. Since then I was writing every two weeks and their replies which were a little bit rude were all the same: "we will finish by the end of the week". I tried to emerge them because this dial was suppose to be a present but their insulent response was: "if you don`t want a name we will return today". That really irritated me and I asked them to send back my dial no matter the name of the model but since then 2 weeks passed and still don`t have an answer.
I really started to worry about the condition of my dial if it is still in one piece. I tried to call them but unfortunately the phone service declined the call, looks like I have to add some code before dialing the number from the website. Please tell me what to do? My patience ran out and I am in a deadlock.
 

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Re: Kirk Dial of Seattle & International Dial Co. of Wilmington, Ohio..Which is "THE" Best?

Seems like I am one of those that is experiencing problems with International dial. I am from Europe and I sent my Certina dial from 1968 at the beginning of December 2012. I was surprised that after two weeks they send me before and after photo, sertainly I was expecting at least a month or something. Anyhow the dial looked nice although it was not exactly like the original look and the name of the model was missing which for me was a major gap. I asked them to print the model of the watch on the dial and they agreed with the condition to make a new order and promised to finish it within two weeks. I payed the first order which was a big mistake and made the new one. Since then I was writing every two weeks and their replies which were a little bit rude were all the same: "we will finish by the end of the week". I tried to emerge them because this dial was suppose to be a present but their insulent response was: "if you don`t want a name we will return today". That really irritated me and I asked them to send back my dial no matter the name of the model but since then 2 weeks passed and still don`t have an answer.
I really started to worry about the condition of my dial if it is still in one piece. I tried to call them but unfortunately the phone service declined the call, looks like I have to add some code before dialing the number from the website. Please tell me what to do? My patience ran out and I am in a deadlock.

One of the reasons my watchmaker will do things for me he does not do for others is I am a man of great patience. I am a collector and have multiple contacts with him. When he gets it done, he gets it done and it is done. And it is not done before then. I only ask if anything has reached 'done'. :) I never complain about how long something takes. He likes that and does me favors. Indeed, over worked that he is, he always smiles when I walk in.

For me that works. ... it's not like it is the family car or something like that. Patience is a virtue. For me that works...
 

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Re: Kirk Dial of Seattle & International Dial Co. of Wilmington, Ohio..Which is "THE" Best

I, too, have had a frustrating experience with International. Patience is required. Their communications are terrible, unfortunately

I am in London and have finally found a really good dial company here called C&F Dial Restoration - http://www.watchdialrestoration.co.uk They've done some fabulous work for me. A superb Omega 30T2. A Zenith Respirator. An Eterna 2002. All virtually perfect. Service is good, reasonable turnarounds, reasonable costs.

I am uploading a few images here to show the results from C+F. I have tried International, Kirk (California), Eagle Dial Refinishing (terrible), DR Bill (UK - good, but limited range of dies) and am just trying out Kronoswelt in Germany, who've just done an Omega Medicus dial that no one else could do accurately. I'll report back on this... Kronoswelt - Restaurierung Spezialisten
 

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Re: Kirk Dial of Seattle & International Dial Co. of Wilmington, Ohio..Which is "THE" Best?

One of the reasons my watchmaker will do things for me he does not do for others is I am a man of great patience. I am a collector and have multiple contacts with him. When he gets it done, he gets it done and it is done. And it is not done before then. I only ask if anything has reached 'done'. :) I never complain about how long something takes. He likes that and does me favors. Indeed, over worked that he is, he always smiles when I walk in.

For me that works. ... it's not like it is the family car or something like that. Patience is a virtue. For me that works...
I consider myself to be a patient person. Well it took them 2 weeks to finish the first order and thats great.For the second order of the same dial on each my request their promise is to finish it by a week or two. If they were honest and I had been told that I have to wait at least 4 months, I would not dare to bother them. Moreover I was writing to them as politely as I can, unlike the otherside. Now they do not answer my mails what should I think?
 

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Re: Kirk Dial of Seattle & International Dial Co. of Wilmington, Ohio..Which is "THE" Best?

Whenever I have had a dial to be refinished I send it to my watchmaker. I am not sure if he sends it out or does the work himself, but the one thing I have learned is that patience is a must.


Sent by carrier pigeon.
 

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Re: Kirk Dial of Seattle & International Dial Co. of Wilmington, Ohio..Which is "THE" Best?

Moreover I was writing to them as politely as I can, unlike the otherside. Now they do not answer my mails what should I think?
That they are overwhelmed and unable to work out a system to deal with the backlog? I'm in the same boat with them. I call and I get the feeling that I'm being a pain. I email and sometimes - or never - hear back. In the end, I'm waiting on one dial from 8 months ago...and the rest I won't get into, I get too irritated. Crazy stuff. And unprofessional. Patience has nothing to do with it.
 

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Re: Kirk Dial of Seattle & International Dial Co. of Wilmington, Ohio..Which is "THE" Best?

If you're charging people money, then it's a business. No rational business people would ignore customers and expect them to wait indefinitely. My wait for the current job has crossed spring equinox twice so far.
 

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Re: Kirk Dial of Seattle & International Dial Co. of Wilmington, Ohio..Which is "THE" Best?

If you're charging people money, then it's a business. No rational business people would ignore customers and expect them to wait indefinitely. My wait for the current job has crossed spring equinox twice so far.
I hear you, feel and share your pain. This is why I sent the link to C&F and pictures, hoping others don't fall down the same hole. Although I am based in the UK, I'm from the US and generally confident in sending work back that way when I can't find it done for a reasonable rate or quality here. For example, I use a guy back home for case work and plating. I send stuff over by registered Air Mail marked for repair and return and he sends it back marked repair returned to client = no customs charges. Similarly, I had a Hamilton re-built by René Rondeau a while back and it worked the same way. Sweet, totally legal and correct.
In general, I have to say that I'm a bit shocked and disappointed by the low standard of professionalism in US dial companies; my experiences with the 3 I've tried are all below the standard I would wish for. Results were okay, but only that.
 

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Re: Kirk Dial of Seattle & International Dial Co. of Wilmington, Ohio..Which is "THE" Best?

I'm resurrecting an old thread I realize, but I wanted report on a recent experience with International.

I sent a dial last week. It was logged into their system on Monday. Just a few minutes ago, I got a "job completed" notification and was able to view the before and after pictures on their website. Although I haven't seen the dial in-hand yet, from the provided photo it looks fine.

Given the comments on this thread, I expected it to take a fair bit of time, and I was pleasantly surprised that it took ~4 days to complete the job. That's faster than my employer was able to re-issue my paycheck that they "forgot" this past month :roll:

I will report back when the dial arrives, but all indications look good at this point.
 

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Re: Kirk Dial of Seattle & International Dial Co. of Wilmington, Ohio..Which is "THE" Best?

Wow! I've been a loyal International Dial fan and stuck through the hard times. I remember a few years ago it was taking 8 weeks. It was just the norm and a given. Then it jumped back to 1 or 2 weeks (it was during the financial crisis). They mean well there, I can assure everyone of that. It's why I've stuck with them.

They may have heard some of the feedback. I know it filters over to them. If the message was consistent that customers were unhappy with the extreme wait times and perhaps they're losing customers, then I can see them doing all they can to fix it. I know they lost a key employee in the last few months. He was there for 40 years. It's hard to find a replacement for that kind of dial wizardry. .

I've urged them in the past to get a little blog going, even a paragraph once a week would be a start. But, they are darned busy AM to PM and haven't taken on that project. Perhaps it would lead to more headaches than it solves. If they had one, then I think if they honestly told what kind of stuff was happening there, folks would maybe be more forgiving. Same thing when something positive happens. Get the word out. I know they recently finished cutting a new die for a customer that produced a stunning Gruen dial. I got one of those dials too and it's phenomenal craftsmanship.

It is fantastic to hear you got your dial very quickly. Maybe it's the beginning of a turnaround of sorts. I assume your dial was as plain as it could be in terms of the requests. You check a couple of boxes on the envelope and that's all. I know those go to the front of the queue.
 

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Re: Kirk Dial of Seattle & International Dial Co. of Wilmington, Ohio..Which is "THE" Best?

It is fantastic to hear you got your dial very quickly. Maybe it's the beginning of a turnaround of sorts. I assume your dial was as plain as it could be in terms of the requests. You check a couple of boxes on the envelope and that's all. I know those go to the front of the queue.
I didn't have one their envelopes, but enclosed a note requesting a basic refinish. You're correct that there wasn't much to the dial. It had applied hour markers and an applied logo, and the printing was limited to "Longines" above the logo, a "cross" for the sub seconds area, and "Swiss" at 6:00.
 

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Re: Kirk Dial of Seattle & International Dial Co. of Wilmington, Ohio..Which is "THE" Best?

I really want to like Int Dial, but the truth is, envelope or no envelopes, they've had a really simple dial of mine for a year now. We keep dancing around where it is in their process, what's happening with it. I really don't want to go on about it in great detail, but it's maddening in the extreme.
All the same, I'm staying cool, calm, trying to wait it out.
In the meantime, they've done three or four other dials, both for me directly and for a couple of watchmakers who are doing jobs for me. That they got one dial through quickly is a good sign, I think; presumably it was a dial they were in the mood to do. But really, guys. There are other companies out there, doing work of the same quality or higher for similar prices with far less hassle.
I'm really disappointed with them. MikeTheWatchGuy, it's nice that you're so loyal, but the quality of their work (very good, not great) doesn't excuse their inconsistency and poor communications. Sorry, I really wish I couldn't say that, don't want to, but I have to be honest here.
 

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Re: Kirk Dial of Seattle & International Dial Co. of Wilmington, Ohio..Which is "THE" Best?

I can't think of any acceptable excuse for having your dial Habitant for a year! Loyal or not, that ain't right. They should do the work or cough up the dial. When I was there for a few days, I watched Liz answer phone call after phone call of rookies (first timers, amatuer home repairs, etc) call and want to know why after 2 days they had no dial. It took up at least 1/2 her day... at least. STILL, not excusing them. Have you talked with Liz. I assume so, perhaps many times. They have lost dials as I heard stories of it and how they remedied the situation (many new old stock and parts for dials in stock for these rare happenings).

I'm pretty sure you have patiently waited several long-ish intervals between calls as your email sounds that like. Drop me a private message and I'll try to find out info. I haven't contacted them in 6 months or maybe longer but think I could get one good conversation outa them. Being short on employees doesn't excuse a request to get your dial back, completed or not. I assume you want to get it and send it elsewhere?
 

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Re: Kirk Dial of Seattle & International Dial Co. of Wilmington, Ohio..Which is "THE" Best?

My watchmaker sent out my dial to International Dial because the paint just disintegrated when he touched the dial to get it off. Part of the word Fortis came off with many painted markers. They sent him a picture of the finished work and told him it's out for delivery.

Well I was studying that picture tonight and all I can say is they did an amateur job. The print is, I would say childish.

This is the dials damage after taking it off.


This is what it looked like before the watch was taken apart.


This is the finished work from them "dial experts". My watchmaker told me they sent a crappy picture, and I know why.


Which font is original and you tell me if this is a professional job









He sent them pictures asking if they can do it and they said no problem. Didn't they notice, these professionals, that the top of the "F" goes just about to the S. It's their trademark for crying out loud.

Big problem now, because I told my watchmaker it is not acceptable like that and send it back, open up a paypal dispute, whatever, but damn if I'm putting that dial on this watch like that.
Oh, and this is the case it's suppose to go it to




These people are not professionals. If you can't do it right, don't do it at all. Send the dial back to the customer and tell them the truth, you just can't do it. Instead they ruin it.
Do not do business with them unless you have an old Hammy.
 

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Re: Kirk Dial of Seattle & International Dial Co. of Wilmington, Ohio..Which is "THE" Best?

sorry to hear that - that dial is quite unacceptable; if you can't get a LOGO right, then why claim you can ?

very similar to my experience with a Breitling sliderule ring; amateur hour.
 

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Re: Kirk Dial of Seattle & International Dial Co. of Wilmington, Ohio..Which is "THE" Best?

I visited them over a year ago and had intended to do a full report. Unfortunately health events over took me and I never got it done. But it did give me some insight into these problems.

Brand logos, indeed all printing, is done from existing designs. (These things are actually metal etchings.) The creation of new designs was backlogged six months and is expensive. But at what they charge (the low two digits!! ... cheap!) they don't create exact copies new of every design but use what they have in stock (which is HUGE).

I suppose they could get one of the new laser machines and reproduce exact copies quicker but then costs would then be what we are complaining about.

And the owner sees enough dials in detail to have made an interesting observation to me. The original makers often had variations in their dial even for the same model. Omega's "Seamaster" is a good example. It varied with model and year and sometimes within model and year. (He was amused at how folks sometimes fussed over the curve of a glyph or the width of a line... These variations often existed in the originals!)

Redials are not an attempt to make a clone of the existing dial in its original state. Sometimes that may happen. But the commercial intent at the prices they charge is to make a very similar dial which is a profound improvement over the used dial which they received from the watchmaker or owner.

Some but not all of their redials are so good you can not tell them from an original. Again, for enough money they will probably clone anything... you just won't get guaranteed exact clones at their normal commercial rates. And they do give the customer the ability to see what the design will look like before they do the work. I believe the customer has to approve the work before they proceed (or, at least, that is an option).

For those redials which are an exact clone remember International always marks the back of the dial with their job number... no complicity in art forgeries from them! |>
 

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Re: Kirk Dial of Seattle & International Dial Co. of Wilmington, Ohio..Which is "THE" Best?

I visited them over a year ago and had intended to do a full report. Unfortunately health events over took me and I never got it done. But it did give me some insight into these problems.

Brand logos, indeed all printing, is done from existing designs. (These things are actually metal etchings.) The creation of new designs was backlogged six months and is expensive. But at what they charge (the low two digits!! ... cheap!) they don't create exact copies new of every design but use what they have in stock (which is HUGE).

I suppose they could get one of the new laser machines and reproduce exact copies quicker but then costs would then be what we are complaining about.

And the owner sees enough dials in detail to have made an interesting observation to me. The original makers often had variations in their dial even for the same model. Omega's "Seamaster" is a good example. It varied with model and year and sometimes within model and year. (He was amused at how folks sometimes fussed over the curve of a glyph or the width of a line... These variations often existed in the originals!)

Redials are not an attempt to make a clone of the existing dial in its original state. Sometimes that may happen. But the commercial intent at the prices they charge is to make a very similar dial which is a profound improvement over the used dial which they received from the watchmaker or owner.

Some but not all of their redials are so good you can not tell them from an original. Again, for enough money they will probably clone anything... you just won't get guaranteed exact clones at their normal commercial rates. And they do give the customer the ability to see what the design will look like before they do the work. I believe the customer has to approve the work before they proceed (or, at least, that is an option).

For those redials which are an exact clone remember International always marks the back of the dial with their job number... no complicity in art forgeries from them! |>

Well, they sent a picture of the completed dial as they were shipping it out. I and my watchmaker had no chance to tell them it was not acceptable. And, damn, you can take a better picture with an SmartPhone nowadays then the one they sent us, all distorted.
No excuse. If you can't do the job correctly, send it back and we'll find someone who can.
Like I said before, they said they would have NO problem recreating that dial and that is the only reason why we sent it to them.

The way it is now, I'd rather them take the name off and leave it like that, blank. Maybe in the future I can actually find someone who can copy the name to a decent level.
 
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